Tag Archives: Universities

World University Rankings 2019⤴

from @ Engage for Education

Responding to today’s Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2019, Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead said:

“We extend our congratulations to the University of Edinburgh on again being the highest placed Scottish university, and to Glasgow, Aberdeen and St Andrews Universities on staying in the Top 200 world university rankings.”

“By head of population, Scotland has more universities in the top 200 than any other country except Switzerland. This underlines, once again, the strength and breadth of our higher education institutions.

“It is however worrying that Times Higher Education highlights that, in the face of growing global competition, Brexit poses a risk to the performance of our universities and suggests the UK will struggle to attract the best international talent and build productive research partnerships due to the isolation that Brexit is in danger of producing.

“The Scottish Government has invested over £1 billion each year since 2012/13 in our higher education institutions and we will support Scotland’s universities to remain attractive, competitive, collaborative and diverse despite the UK Government’s damaging Brexit plans.”

Read more about this story.

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Higher Education Minister firm on widening access agenda⤴

from @ Engage for Education

Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead has praised the University of Glasgow for its efforts to attract more students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Mr Lochhead made the comments after meeting students who have benefited from the university’s widening participation programmes which aim to break down barriers for less affluent potential students.

 A record number of students from Scotland’s most disadvantaged areas successfully gained a place at university this year according to latest UCAS figures.

Over the last two years there has been a 16% increase in the number of all age applicants from the 20% most deprived areas securing a place at university – an increase of around 690 to 5,140.

Mr Lochhead said:

“It is clear to see the University of Glasgow’s commitment to widening access and of all the ancient universities it continues to have the highest percentage of entrants from the most deprived communities. Speaking to the students today it was evident that programmes such as the university’s summer school have made a real difference and helped them to achieve their educational aspirations. 

“Since 2007 the Scottish Government has provided free tuition to over half a million students in full-time higher education and we are firm in our ambition that every child, irrespective of socioeconomic background, should have an equal chance of accessing higher education. We have a well-established road map with key milestones and I expect every university to take action now to ensure that, by 2021, 10% of entrants to each university are from Scotland’s 20% most deprived backgrounds.

“While great progress has already been made we want to do more. This financial year we are investing £5.2 million to increase bursaries for full-time care-experienced students alongside £16 million in 2019/20 to expand and increase bursaries for students from the lowest income families to ensure they do not miss out on the opportunity of a world-class higher education.”

Principal of the University of Glasgow, Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli said:

“We are deeply committed to widening access and to offering a world-class education to anyone who has talent and ambition, regardless of economic circumstance or social background – this doesn’t just benefit those students, but makes our University more diverse and reflective of the society we serve.

“We have implemented a number of measures to widen access to applicants from a non-traditional background, including a suite of pre-entry widening participation programmes for school-leavers and adult returners to education – like our Summer School, Top-Up, Reach and Access to a Career programmes. We also work annually with more than 20,000 pupils in more than 100 targeted secondary schools in the west of Scotland.

“These programmes are delivering real results and while we are very proud of the demonstrable progress we’ve made so far, we are wholly committed to working in partnership with the Scottish Government to do even more in this vitally important area.”

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Numbers add up as Maths Week kicks off with hundreds of events⤴

from @ Engage for Education

A maths magician, a guitar physicist and a codebreaking team from Bletchley Park are among the highlights of Maths Week Scotland, which starts across the country today.

There are hundreds of events, activities and lectures lined up with the aim of bringing numeracy to life and showing the fun side of maths.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney will share a new maths challenge on Twitter every day, created for him by the Scottish Mathematical Council, and BBC Learning have teamed up with Scottish Teacher of the Year Chris Smith to create videos demonstrating how to solve the puzzles.

Mr Swinney said:

“Maths is an essential life skill for everyone to use, enjoy and to be successful – it underpins all aspects of life. Raising awareness about the importance and relevance of maths is vital – particularly as our society is becoming increasingly underpinned by data analysis, science and technology.

“Undoubtedly maths provides the framework for life-changing advances in all of these fields and celebrations like Maths Week Scotland challenge misconceptions and negative attitudes that discourage learners by demonstrating the accessibility, relevance and beauty of maths.

“Maths Week is at the heart of our drive to make Scotland more positive in its attitude towards numeracy and maths. Whether you’re a maths whizz, or haven’t thought about it since your last lesson at school, there is something for everyone, with hundreds of events covering all parts of Scotland, all ages and all sectors of society. I’m looking forward to visiting schools taking part this week and getting involved in the celebrations.”

Excellence and equity in maths and numeracy attainment is central to the Scottish Government’s ambition for continuous improvement in education and to close the poverty-related attainment gap. 

Programme highlights:

 ·         The Bletchley Park Education team visiting all secondary schools in Angus to explore maths and code breaking during the Week.

·         Maths ‘magician’ Kjartan Poskitt performing in primary schools in Wick, Thurso, Shetland and Orkney (as well as Orkney Library and Orkney Science Festival).

·         Maths performer Andrew Jeffrey performing in secondary schools in Perth, Pitlochry, Kingussie and Inverness.

·         An event for S5 girls in Edinburgh on the importance of maths from Heriot Watt and Edinburgh Universities and the International Centre for Mathematical Studies.

·         A Maths Circle for children, families and young people at Edinburgh University on Saturday 15 September.

·         The UK Mathematical Trust 2-day maths event for secondary pupils in partnership with Strathclyde University.

·         The Strathclyde Science Scouts will be visiting schools during the week for maths games and adventures.

·         The University of Glasgow have created a day of maths activities and talks activities for s3-6 pupils to attend.

·         Learning Links and Heather Reid will present to adult education practitioners at Glasgow Science Centre on exploring climate change using numbers and maths.

·         Heriot Watt University are holding a session on the Maths of Social Media for higher and advanced higher pupils.

·         The West Partnership are holding a numeracy and maths all-day staff conference to launch Maths Week on Saturday 8 September.  It’s fully booked.

·         University of Edinburgh are hosting an evening event for maths teachers with a range of speakers including Scottish Teacher of the Year 2018 Chris Smith and the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney MSP.

·         St Andrews University are giving lectures in 3 local schools and will also be hosting a viewing of their special collection of ancient mathematical texts and pairing this with a lecture. 

·         Dr Emily Grossman, an expert in molecular biology and genetics, will visit Grange Academy in Kilmarnock to inspire a group of S3 students about the exciting opportunities for young people (and especially girls) following careers in Maths and Science.

·         The National Museum have built maths into their solar and wind power workshop for p5-7 pupils and created an associated maths resource for teachers.

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Results day⤴

from @ Engage for Education

For more than 135,000 young people and their families today is the most anticipated day of the summer as they receive their SQA results.

I had the opportunity to meet just a few of them during a visit to Firrhill High School in Edinburgh this morning and again at a special SQA celebration for care experienced young people in Glasgow.

They should all be proud of the hard work and determination that has gone into preparing for today, as should all our young people receiving results right across the country.

It is also important to remember that, whatever the outcome, today is only the beginning of an exciting and sometimes unpredictable journey to the career of your choice.

So what do the results tell us?

Overall, Higher passes are stable, despite a continuing fall in the number of young people on the school roll, while the number of Advanced Highers being taken continues to grow. This is the first year where unit assessments have been removed from the National 5, and the overall pass rate remains high at 77.4%. The number of awards of skills-based qualifications increased to over 50,300 this year, more than double the number in 2012.

That reinforces to me, yet again, that we have fantastic young people led by dedicated teachers and lecturers delivering first class education in our schools and colleges every day. And that is backed by a robust, credible assessment system. I would like to offer my congratulations to everyone involved.

Today we also welcomed figures that show a record number of students from Scotland’s most disadvantaged areas gained a place at university – the third consecutive annual rise.

The poverty related attainment gap – the cycle of poverty that passes from one generation to the next – is closing. Every child growing up in Scotland, regardless of their background, should have an equal chance to succeed.

I am delighted we are making steady, sustained progress on ensuring students from the most deprived areas of Scotland are going on to higher education.

At the same time, the total number of Scottish students from all backgrounds getting a place at a Scottish university has hit a new record.

We have more people from Scotland going to university than ever before, more modern apprenticeship places than ever before, and our colleges are delivering more courses with qualifications and awards that help get people jobs than ever before.

I know there is much more to do but today is the perfect time to reflect on the progress we have made within Scottish education to date and, most importantly, to celebrate the success of each and every one of our young people.

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Minister comments on 2016-17 widening access statistics⤴

from @ Engage for Education

Commenting on the publication of the Scottish Funding Council’s Report on Widening Access 2016-17, Further and Higher Education Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“These figures are a stark reminder of why this Government was right to take the action we did on widening access.

“They show that in the four years up to 2016-17 nothing had changed and, on their own, universities were not making improvement in increasing the percentage of students from the 20% most deprived areas.

“The Commission on Widening Access reported in March 2016, by which time the vast majority of students had already applied for the 2016-17 academic year. So these figures provide a baseline from which to judge how successfully the Commission’s recommendations will be implemented – at a national level but also at an individual institution level.

“More recent figures from UCAS show a 13% increase in the number of Scots from disadvantaged areas getting a place to study at a Scottish university in 2017-18. So we expect to see demonstrable progress next year and beyond.”

Background

  • The Scottish Funding Council report on Widening Access 2016-17 can be viewed on the Scottish Funding Council website. http://www.sfc.ac.uk/publications-statistics/statistical-publications/statistical-publications-2018/SFCST062018.aspx
  • The data shows that, in 2016-17, 13.8% of full-time first degree entrants were from SIMD20. For all Higher Education entrants (including sub-degree and college), 17.7% are from SIMD 20.
  • The Commission on Widening Access target, accepted by the Scottish Government is, by 2030, students from the 20% most deprived backgrounds should represent 20% of entrants to higher education, with equality of access seen in both the college and university sector.
  • To drive forward progress to the 2030 goal the interim targets are:
    – 16% of full-time first degree entrants to Scottish universities from the 20% most deprived areas (SIMD20) by 2021;
    – 18% of full-time first degree entrants to Scottish universities from the 20% most deprived areas (SIMD20) by 2026;
    – By 2021, an individual institutional target for universities  of 10%.
  • The Commission’s final report was published in March 2016. The main UCAS deadline for the 2016-17 academic year was January 2016.
  • The UCAS 2017 End of Cycle report (published December/January) showed a 13% increase in the number of Scots from the most deprived communities getting places to study at a Scottish university in 2017 (4,565 in 2016 to 5,170 in 2017).

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#IsThisOk?⤴

from @ Engage for Education

Yesterday, Further and Higher Education Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville visited the University of Stirling to learn more about a joint initiative between the University and Student’s Union to combat sexual violence and misconduct.

Here Jill Stevenson, Head of Student Support Services at the University, sets out how partnership working has been critical to the initiative’s success.

OVER the past two-and-a-half years, staff and students at the University of Stirling have been working closely together to develop and implement a joint strategy to prevent and tackle sexual violence and misconduct. It is characterised by the principles of collaboration, prevention and shared ownership for a culture of respectful, healthy relationships in our community.

Back in 2015, a group of students and Gender Studies staff jointly hosted a screening of the US documentary, The Hunting Ground, which sparked a series of discussions between senior University staff and students about sexual violence in universities. Following those discussions, a strong commitment to jointly take action at Stirling emerged.

Following several months of development and consultation with staff and students, and engagement with a wide range of partners including Rape Crisis Forth Valley, Police Scotland, Stirling & District Women’s Aid, the local Gender Based Violence Partnership and the National Rape Task Force, our joint strategy was launched to more than 100 guests in December 2017 by our Principal, Professor Gerry McCormac, and former Students’ Union President, Dave Keenan, with contributions from a range of external partners.

The strategy commits both organisations to “take all steps within their power to prevent, tackle and respond appropriately and supportively to incidents of sexual violence or misconduct – in all its forms – that may affect our students, staff and those who use our facilities and services.” To achieve this aim, we aspire to achieve four key objectives:

  • Foster a culture where sexual violence, harassment and other forms of sexual misconduct are not tolerated and are actively challenged
  • Ensure that our staff and students are clear about their options and receive appropriate support if they are a victim-survivor of sexual misconduct
  • Ensure University and Students’ Union staff and officers are clear about how to respond to and support students or colleagues if they have been affected by sexual violence or misconduct; and
  • Improve our knowledge and understanding about the prevalence of – and impact of our work to prevent and tackle – sexual misconduct in our community

We didn’t develop this strategy because we think there is a particular issue with sexual violence at the University of Stirling: research shows unequivocally that issues of gender based and sexual violence are pervasive throughout society. However, we recognise the powerful role that the University has as an employer, an educator, and a supporter of thousands of students, many of whom are or will go on to become the influencers and leaders of future society. We feel that we have a responsibility and a unique position to create dialogue and critical thinking about these issues amongst our University community, and to make a tangible difference to society.

Since we launched the strategy, we’ve been working hard. Some of our achievements so far include:

  • The launch of a dedicated microsite, which contains key information on sexual violence and consent, the law in Scotland, options for survivors, support available at the University and provided by partners, and guidance for those who are supporting a student, colleague or friend who has been affected.
  • The launch of our multiple award winning awareness-raising campaign #IsThisOk which seeks to raise awareness of sexual violence and encourages everyone to challenge their own assumptions and take steps to prevent and tackle sexual and gender based violence
  • The development of clear guidance on what to do if you or a friend has been affected by sexual violence
  • A comprehensive training programme for staff and students, which is now being built into induction processes
  • Creation of a 12-strong Sexual Violence & Misconduct Liaison Officer (SVMLO) network; a group of staff who are intensively trained to respond to disclosures and provide guidance to anyone affected by sexual violence

Over the coming year, we’ll be taking further action, including:

  • New mechanisms to make reporting easier, including a new online reporting tool
  • Research into the experiences of those who have received a disclosure of sexual violence or misconduct at the University
  • The development of a network of student #IsThisOk workshop facilitators, who will lead conversations about sexual violence with other students across the University
  • Continued close work with our partners, including further dialogue with the Scottish Government and other universities to identify ways we can collaborate further

We are very proud of the work that’s happening at the University of Stirling to encourage everyone to ask #IsThisOk and to take action if not. We are starting to see the impact of our work and we look forward to continuing to work with our partners to make our society a safer and better place for everyone.

Jill Stevenson, Head of Student Support Services, University of Stirling

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Articulation in action⤴

from @ Engage for Education

Further and Higher Education Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville today met a former roadie who swapped life touring the world with a band to train for his dream job as an ambulance paramedic thanks to a college access course to university.

Chris Anderson, who is now studying for his BSc in Paramedic Science at Glasgow Caledonian University, was travelling and working at international music venues when he realised his true vocation.

Chris, who is 39 and originally from Bellshill, said:

“I witnessed a few injuries that happened in the large crowds that gathered for our concerts. I watched the emergency personnel that came in, taking ill or injured people out of the crowds and looking after them and work they did seemed both exciting and important. It inspired me to change direction, go to college and now I’ll be ready to apply to the ambulance service when I graduate.”

Chris was one of the students meeting Scotland’s Higher Education Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP when she visited Glasgow Caledonian University to find out about the support available for more than 1,000 college students who join degree courses at the University each year.

Ms Somerville, said:

“This has been a good opportunity to see the work that Glasgow Caledonian University is taking forward to support students from a variety of backgrounds to fulfil their potential at university. Widening access is a key priority for this Government. Part of delivering this change is looking at examples of best practice to understand what works well and sharing that learning across the university sector.

“The work that Glasgow Caledonian University does to support students articulating from college is a clear demonstration of the university’s commitment to the widening access agenda. It was a privilege to meet Chris and hear his amazing story – it really brings home how important college is as a route into university and why it is imperative that we do what we can as a government and as a sector to make these opportunities more readily available.”

Paramedic Science student Chris Anderson meeting Scottish Government Higher Education minister, Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP at Glasgow Caledonian University campus

Glasgow Caledonian University welcomes more than 1,000 students from 17 colleges around Scotland each year, the second largest intake in the country. As well as access to summer schools, college applicants can also use the library, gym and computing labs to help them prepare for the move to university.

The University’s Head of Outreach, Eleanor Wilson MBE, said:

“We work closely with colleges to make Glasgow Caledonian University first choice for many students. Our admissions procedures recognise applicant’s potential with measures in place to support students from the beginning. Through our student mentors and highly-skilled staff, we aim to ease transition from college to university by creating an excellent student experience.  Their prospects are very good, because we have just recorded our best-ever figures for students completing their degrees and 97% are in work or further study six months after graduation.”

Chris Anderson says the college courses he took were a perfect preparation for university. He is now going out on placement as part of his course and he’s certain he’s made the right move.

“I get to go out observing and assisting qualified paramedics as they work. I’ve had a lot of jobs in my life, but nothing compares to that feeling of riding in the ambulance on the way to help someone who is in a life-threatening situation. To be able to be there, to be equipped and trained to help-out and maybe save a life is just amazing. It’s a lot more exciting than a tour bus.”

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Equality and fairness at heart of college and university agenda⤴

from @ Engage for Education

Further and Higher Education Minister, Shirley-Anne Somerville, has put equality and fairness at the heart of her guidance to universities and colleges for 2018-19.

Setting out her expectations for the sector in the letter of guidance to the Scottish Funding Council, published today, the Minister said that continued progress in implementing the recommendations of the Commission on Widening Access is vital.

The letter sets out the government’s expectations and priorities for its investment of £1.8 billion in the further and higher education sectors in 2018-19.

In particular, the letter highlighted the leadership role expected of the Scottish Funding Council to drive forward improvements which will contribute to equality and fairness in the further and higher education system.

This includes taking forward the Equally Safe initiative to address violence against women and girls on campus, as well as working with student’s organisations to ensure universities and colleges have support services in place that meet the needs of students with mental health difficulties.

Institutions will be expected to develop a strategy for mental health and work with NUS Scotland and their local student association to develop a Student Mental Health Agreement.

Speaking as the letter of guidance was published, Ms Somerville said:

“Education remains this Government’s defining mission and the Scottish Funding Council has a crucial role to play in supporting our drive to achieve educational excellence, equity and economic growth.

“As this letter makes clear, widening access to university for people from the most disadvantaged backgrounds remains our key priority and I am clear that progress must continue at pace.

“It with this in mind that I am putting equality and fairness at the heart of this year’s guidance to the sector.

“I am determined that we embrace the spirit of the equality agenda, as well as meet expectations on access, and I amclear about the role SFC must play to drive forward improvements in key areas such as student safety and well-being, gender equality and the living wage.

“We know that universities and colleges have a key role to play in achieving our ambitions and that is why we have demonstrated our commitment by increasing their budget.

“Our expectation is to see demonstrable progress in delivering a further and higher education system that is more equal, accessible and nurturing to all of our students, no matter their background or personal circumstances.”

Mike Cantlay, Chair of the Scottish Funding Council, said:

“We welcome this latest guidance from the Minister and will continue to ensure excellence and equity in Scotland’s colleges and universities. We share the Minister’s ambition for equality and fairness and will work with colleges, universities and our partners to drive forward progress in all areas of equal access.”

View the Scottish Government’s Letter of Guidance 2018-19 to the Scottish Funding Council online.

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Minister praises introduction of access thresholds at Abertay University⤴

from @ Engage for Education

Further and Higher Education Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville has said that Abertay University’s early introduction of access thresholds for students from disadvantaged backgrounds should be seen “as an example” for other institutions.

On a visit to Abertay University today to discuss their implementation of access thresholds, Ms Somerville said:

“This Government firmly believes that access thresholds have the potential to make a significant contribution to reducing inequalities in higher education. There is extensive evidence that universities get the best students by taking into account the social and educational background of an applicant in its admissions process, which is why access thresholds have an important role to play.

“This is a view supported by the Commission on Widening Access, who recommended that all universities introduce access thresholds by 2019.

“So I welcome the opportunity to hear from Abertay University about how they have already implemented access thresholds, in time for the 2017 academic year. The initial findings are encouraging, with the number of entrants who received an adjusted offer doubling in 2017-18.

“This sits alongside Abertay University’s approach to take into account individual student’s level of preparedness for university and ensure the right support is available for those coming through the contextualised admissions process. The speed with which Abertay University has introduced access thresholds is to be commended and should be seen as an example that many other institutions across the country can learn from.”

Professor Nigel Seaton, Principal of Abertay University, added:

“We look forward to introducing the Minister to Abertay University’s new approach to supporting students from disadvantaged backgrounds.  This involves making offers of admission at an ‘access threshold’, with a much lower academic requirement than previously.”

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New figures on higher education students at Scottish institutions⤴

from @ Engage for Education

New figures have been published today by the Scottish Funding Council examining the higher education sector in Scotland in 2016-17.

Read the key points from the publication:

Commenting on the figures, Further and Higher Education Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“It is welcome to see in these latest statistics that we have a record number of post-graduate students and increases in both part-time and older learners.

“This Government is determined to make higher education as accessible as possible to everyone in Scotland. We recognise the importance of post-graduate study and providing the opportunities for people to get a higher education qualification later in life. That is why we are enabling even more people to study for a postgraduate qualification in the coming years by expanding access to tuition fee loans and living cost loans to students studying by distance learning.

“What these figures show is that the higher education sector in this country is continuing to go from strength to strength, with colleges playing a vital role in the delivery of many higher education courses across Scotland.”

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